An old golf motivational story goes something like this: one golfer steps up to the tee, looks at the water trap just before the green, lines up the shot and thinks - must not put the ball in the water trap. He takes the shot and, sure enough, the ball heads straight into the water. The second player steps up, lines up the shot and she says - put the ball onto the green. She takes the shot, and the ball lands on the green. The moral is - be careful what you aim for, that’s what you are going to hit.
We all hear about how bad the economy is. The news, the meetings, and the numbers on the reports show us that things are pretty grim. Discussions with suppliers and partners are beginning to focus on how to reduce the fall in numbers rather than growth. Some people are in meetings with HR to discuss coming rounds of layoffs and redundancies, and some of the people affected are friends, and they may have families that depend on their jobs.
Because the bad news about the economy is at the top of our minds, we need to be consider what that does to our outlook. Are we starting to think about the “water trap” ? Am I thinking about how to protect my job ? Are you worrying about how far the numbers can slide before it becomes ‘termination’ ?
It when this happens that you start saying ‘no’ to ideas that can make a difference. When the only thing in your mind is the “water trap”, then that is where you are going to go.
Here is suggestion to help you find some joy, that might let you focus on “the green”. Write a fairy tale. Find a bit of time, focus, start with ‘Once upon a time’ and then write the fairy tale that you would love to see happen to your company.
For me, as a Computer Consultant, the most exciting time is when new technology arrives that offers reduced costs and better control. And that is what my fairy tale is about.
Here is what I wrote:
Once upon a time, there was a Company that wasn’t doing so well. The Wicked Witch of Economy had cast an evil spell that made everyone unhappy. All the people in the Company Land didn’t like their work, and were angry with each other. They were sitting at home being unhappy, instead of getting outside to do things. They were so sad that didn’t go on holidays, or buy new furniture, or all the things that made them happy.
In particular, the Corporate Court of Information Technology was very unhappy. All the princes would have meetings to discuss the new projects, but, of course, there were no new projects, or at least, none that were exciting to the princes. And the princes were glum, and stopped riding across the land to look for things to do. They spent their time evaluating, and re-evaluating the projects that they were already working on. They reviewed their procedures, and overhauled their workflow, prepared architectural summaries and cleared the backlog of reports that they had always been meaning to do.
But the princes were still very glum. They just didn’t know what to do with themselves.
One night, there was strange feeling across the land. Something was different. The people all muttered to themselves that this was all they needed. As if things weren’t bad enough. Rumour had it that a Technology was roaming the Outlands, wild and untamed it was threatening the outlying businesses and farm.
The mutterings grew, and the populace were unsettled and the King decided to send the courtiers to investigate. And so the Business Analysts were dispatched to corners of the kingdom, to search for source of this new Technology. After days of searching, a lone Business Analyst returned with word. His eyes were full of wonder, his face full of light, the Technology was true. It contained promise, it had a future, it seemed to be right, and, most of all, the numbers added up.
The Princes were summoned to the Kings presence and commanded to armour up and head off to conquer this New Technology and to bring its head back to him to show that the battle had been won.
The people were mightily pleased to see the Princes ride out to do battle. It was a long time since a joyous site had been seen, the Princes were strong in their talents, and mighty in their learning. All the People roused a stirring cheer and went about their work with PURPOSE. The world was right again.
And though the Wicked Witch of the Economy was still there, her spell didn’t work on the Corporate Court of Information Technology. They had the New Technology to dispel the gloom.
Try it. And when things are looking bad, think of your fairy tale and make that happen instead of thinking about how bad it's going to be. Aim to be on the green, not avoiding the water trap.
Greg Ferro is a freelance Computer Network Architect in Europe ( Australia and Oceania), who consults for the Top500. Running his own business since 2001, he struggles to find creativity and inspiration in the midst of technology, detail and process.